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Crows trio crowned

Katrina Gill  August 30, 2017 9:37 PM

Our All Australian Crows Hear from our three All Australian Crows.
AFL 2017 Media - Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Awards

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: (L-R) Matt Crouch, Eddie Betts and Rory Laird of the Crows arrive during the 2017 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Awards at the Palais Theatre on August 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

Three Crows have been selected in the 2017 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team.

Forward Eddie Betts has been recognised for a third straight season, while defender Rory Laird and midfielder Matt Crouch have received their first All Australian blazers. 

The Crows, Essendon and West Coast each supplied three players with 12 separate clubs represented.

Betts was named in a forward pocket at a ceremony in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The electrifying 30-year-old remains the premier small forward in the competition.

He kicked more goals in the home and away season (49) than any other player in his position, finishing equal-sixth in the Coleman Medal.

One of the game’s great entertainers, Betts is also in the running to win his third-consecutive Goal of the Year title after receiving three nominations this season.

The two-time Crows leading goalkicker is as selfless as he is eye-catching, ranked third in the League for goal assists (25), score assists (38) and forward 50m tackles.

In a reflection of his remarkable consistency and durability, Betts has been included in the All Australian squad a total of six times (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) during his 13-year career.

All Australian selector Kevin Bartlett described Betts as an “extraordinary” player.

“He’s one of the all-time greats when we talk about small forwards,” he said.

“Eddie Betts makes you turn on the TV and want to go and watch the Adelaide Crows play.

“He makes things happen.”

Laird and Crouch were among 12 first-time All Australians. 

The new-look side saw the fourth-most All Australians capped in a single year, behind only the 15 named for the first time in 2012, 14 in 1982 and 13 in 2014.

Laird earns the nod after being named in the squad, but ultimately overlooked in the previous two years.

The 23-year-old was picked on a half-back flank in the star-studded 2017 team.

A prolific and damaging ball winner, Laird is averaging a career-best 30 disposals at an elite 81 per cent efficiency, five marks and five rebound 50ms.

He ranked fourth in the AFL for total disposals (662), second for effective disposals (536) and equal-fourth for intercept possessions (167) in the minor round.

The former rookie was also top 10 for loose-ball gets (92), handball receives (333) and combined inside 50ms and rebound 50ms (162). He’s currently second at Adelaide for metres gained (9,107) behind Brodie Smith.

At 22 years of age, Crouch is one of the youngest members of the 2017 All Australian team.

In only his fourth AFL season, Crouch averaged a career-best 33 disposals, five tackles and six clearances.

The left-footer averaged a disposal every 2.9 minutes of game time (ranked No.1 in the AFL) and was second for in the League for total disposals (726) behind only Hawthorn recruit and fellow All Australian Tom Mitchell (787).

He amassed 30 or more possessions in 16 of his 22 home and away matches, including a career-high 45 against the Eagles in the final round of the season.

Crouch finished top 10 in the competition for contested possessions (294), hard-ball gets (130), loose-ball gets (97) and handball receives (350) in the home and away season.

All Australian selector Warren Tredrea described Crouch as a “big improver” in the League.

“It’s been a meteoric rise,” he said.

“He just keeps accumulating the ball and he hits his targets a lot better. He’s a lot more composed at the highest level than he has been over the last couple of years.

“He’s at least a decade player.”

A League-high eight Adelaide players, Betts, Laird, Crouch, Taylor Walker, Rory Sloane, Sam Jacobs, Tom Lynch and Jake Lever were picked in the initial squad of 40.

The final team was selected to "best fit team balance as if to play a match".

Richmond defender Alex Rance, who earned selection for a fourth straight year, was named captain of the side, with West Coast forward Josh Kennedy his vice-captain.

The All Australian selection panel is Gillon McLachlan (chairman), Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Andrew Dillon, Danny Frawley, Glen Jakovich, Chris Johnson, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson and Warren Tredrea.